Mustique to Young Island

Despite the continuing squalls we decided that a week in Bequia was enough and we'd take our chances. And anyway, maybe the winds were accelerating down the valley and through the anchorage and outside they'd be steadier. This turned out to be the case as we soon discovered when we headed off the 3M downwind to return around the western corner of the island and back past the wrecked coaster. Once around the headland we hardened up the sheets and started to tack upwind in the relatively sheltered waters between Bequia and the two uninhabited islands of Isle Quatre and Petit Nevis. Our destination was either Friendship Bay on the south coast of Bequia, or Mustique.
We'd decide later, whether to stop when we reached Friendship Bay or go on the extra distance to Mustique. Holly Mae was going well, first on a port tack, a couple of miles over to Isle Quatre, then about 50 yards off we went about and back on starboard to Bequia. As we closed on Bequia with Petit Nevis off to starboard, we had to put in a couple of short tacks to work our way upwind through a gap of less than two cables between the island and some rocks. Once through the gap we were out into the Atlantic swell with Friendship Bay half a mile on the port and Mustique about 6M off in a south easterly direction. We were enjoying ourselves and so decided to press on. It was a fast close reach at first to make sure we could overcome the westerly set of the current, and when half way there we were able to bear away to a fast beam reach and covered the distance in about 50 mins.

We hove to in Britannia Bay and dropped the heads'ls, then the main, before motoring to a mooring buoy. Anchoring is not permitted unless all buoys are taken, and anchoring in all other bays around the island is also banned. It's to protect the coral, I think, which seems fair enough. Fairer at least, than the mooring charges which were $200 EC (about £50) for the first night, although nights two and three were thrown in. We hadn't planned on staying three nights, but now ........................well we had to get our moneys worth.

Mustique is a small island which has become a retreat of the rich and famous. There are, we were told, about 100 villas owned by these seekers of exclusivity, and walking around, the manicured extravagance provided a stark contrast with all the other islands we had visited. One afternoon we went for a walk down towards the south of the island and when we got to a nice beach we went in for a snorkel to look at the coral. The coral was OK but not the best so we swam around the corner following the beach. It was a bit better there and also we spotted, at the other end of the beach a nice looking bar. It had its own dock, a shower for de-saltifying, and the usual thatched roof over the bar set back into a cliff face. The bar's terrace was just a few feet above the sea with a fantastic view and it was connected by a little funicular. So we had a shower and walked into the bar................... at this stage you may be imagining us in our swimming togs and wondering where we'd get the money for a pina colada, but I can reassure you that Noley, being always prepared for anything was carrying her bank card tucked into her bikini............. The bar was very quiet, there being only one other woman there. Being sociable sorts we fell into conversation with her and she was kind enough to explain that we weren't in a public bar, but in the bar attached to a house, and she could only offer us a glass of water !

We spent our two days swimming, snorkelling and walking around the island and at sundown we went ashore to Basil's Bar, which is built on a jetty overlooking the moorings. From there we could look out on Holly Mae sitting serenely on her mooring as the sun went over the horizon, as we talked about where to go to next. Would it be St Vincent ? Or would we bypass St Vincent, sailing up the windward coast and go straight on to St Lucia ? Many boats were skipping St Vincent on account of its reputation for crime, violent on occasions, but actually the most recent case had been the death of a British sailor in Vieux Port, St Lucia ! After much discussion we decided to go and see St Vincent, but be more cautious than usual..................... not anchoring alone in secluded anchorages, avoiding certain towns altogether, locking up etc. etc.

So on the morning of the 25th Feb we hoisted our sails, still with one reef in the main, and set off. On the way to St Vincent, we had to pass by on the windward side of Bequia. Perfect conditions again, and we could lay the course comfortably as we settled down for a morning sail. Passing Bequia about five miles off with its mix of rocky cliffs and undulating green hillsides I thought how it could have been a coastline in the westcountry or Brittany. It didn't look tropical from that distance. The majority of the vegetation covering the hills looks pretty much like our woodland at home. It's only when closer inshore that the vegetation starts to look more exotic. When you can pick out the coconut palms behind the white sand beaches and the banana trees................. that's when you remember where you are !

We arrived off Young Island, a small resort about a cable off the southern end of St Vincent, and as we lowered sail and motored in looking for somewhere to drop anchor we were approached by a boat boy offering us a mooring. We declined at first, but after pottering around for 15mins and discovering that all the best anchoring spots had been filled with mooring buoys, we changed our minds and took one. Interestingly there were less than a dozen boats on around a hundred moorings.............. not very busy. These moorings, when official, are usually laid to protect coral, but when put down by boat boys are effectively just privately run parking meters. I don't mind sometimes supporting the local economy and paying for them, but the quality and security of the ground tackle used is dubious and I'm sure the boat boy would make himself very scarce if the mooring failed in a blow. Anyhow, conditions were benign, that day. We took the mooring, paid the money and all was well. I've since learned that these 'private moorings' have no legal status and we would have been quite within our rights to drop anchor in the prime spot amongst the empty moorings. But then again, this is St Vincent and it may not have been the best diplomatic move.

We went ashore looking for Wifi, and like Bequia the water front was covered in a string of bars and restaurants. But unlike Bequia these were not doing a roaring trade.................. in fact all but two had closed down. Looking between the empty moorings and the closed down restaurants, in this beautiful location, it was plain that sailors were passing by without stopping and the local economy was struggling. Whether this was because of it's violent reputation or not, we can only speculate. So we did our Wifi-ing and then bused to a supermarket to stock up on some provisions and then back to eat on board, with no problems.So far, so good, but I have to admit that we felt a little less relaxed than we had done on all the previous islands.